Confessions of a top doc

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 09 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c7093
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

David Kerr tells Nigel Hawkes why he agreed to become adviser to Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley after campaigning for Tony Blair in 2001

Andrew Lansley’s new health adviser, oncologist David Kerr, is a rather unlikely recruit. A Labour supporter who campaigned for Tony Blair in the 2001 election and later wrote a report for the Scottish NHS that stressed the virtues of a collective approach, he doesn’t seem the most likely apostate.

He admits that he “hummed and hawed” for a while after Mr Lansley invited him to serve as an adviser. “The story was always going to be ‘top doc defects’” he acknowledges, “and there was a bit of that. But Andrew Lansley is bright and committed, and David Cameron is right behind him. So far he’s delivered on his promises to the NHS.”

The promises that attracted Professor Kerr are to return power to clinicians and to create and publish proper outcome measures. “Clinical engagement is absolutely critical—the medical profession has been pushed to the sidelines, into a state of disgruntled passivity,” he says. “We now have a chance to come on to the pitch and influence crucial decisions.

“There’s been a lot of argument and discussion about structures, GP commissioning and so on, but the structural stuff is only a tool to deliver better clinical endpoints, not an object in itself.”

Disenchantment with …

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